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Kazakh Official Denies Presidential Staff Chief Had Stroke

Sarybai Qalmurzaev
Sarybai Qalmurzaev
ASTANA -- A Kazakh official has denied reports that presidential-administration head Sarybai Qalmurzaev has been hospitalized with a stroke, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The state-run KazTAG news agency said today that Qalmurzaev was hospitalized with a massive stroke and needs long-term treatment.

But Qalmurzaev's aide, Bolat Sultanbaev, denied the report. He said Qalmurzaev is in Kazakhstan but not currently in his office.

Qalmurzaev's secretary told RFE/RL that her boss had been on sick leave since October 4. She said she was not aware of Qalmurzaev's current whereabouts.

The report about Qalmurzaev is the second in the last week about a top Kazakh official being hospitalized for a stroke.

On October 4, Kazakhstan's financial police said Health Minister Zhaqsylyq Dosqaliev faked a stroke to escape justice.

Dosqaliev, 54, was hospitalized on September 27 with what was reported to be a stroke after being interrogated by the police. But on October 4, a doctor said that he made a false diagnosis at Dosqaliev's request.

Also on October 4, Financial police spokesperson Murat Zhumanbai told journalists in Astana that Dosqaliev is suspected of embezzlement, illegal sale of real estate, and bribe taking.

Qalmurzaev, 61, is a veteran Kazakh politician known for his loyalty to President Nursultan Nazarbaev. He has worked as the chief of the presidential administration since December. Before that he headed the state Agency for Combating Corruption and Economic Crimes.